So my first day of travel in Cycle of America 2010 started early at 6am on Thursday 29 July. My reliable alarm clock (my Mam) ensured I was only half-asleep when we grabbed the taxi to Dublin airport. My main worry for the day was getting my bike safely through two flights. The bike had been kindly boxed up by 2wheels bike shop in Sandymount but it was awkward to lug around – about the size of a wall radiator!
However the whole day went fine which was a huge relief. I checked in my bike box through excess baggage in Dublin; it appeared in NYC; I then checked it in through excess baggage in NYC; and it appeared in Seattle. I even got away with not paying the $80 bike charge in JFK airport!
The flights themselves also went fine. Dublin to NYC was about 7 hours, most of which I spent reading Tony Griffin’s ‘Screaming at the Sky’. Tony is a Clare hurler who cycled 7,000kms across Canada a few years back. But the book covers much more than that, including the ups and downs in his hurling career, and how losing his father to cancer affected his life. It was an honest, open and inspiring read. Tony also sent the COA team an email today simply saying ‘Enjoy the journey, that is the reward.’
Near the end of my first flight I got talking to a girl sitting beside me from El Salvador who was heading to see her parents in Orlando. She described El Salvador as a scary place with corruption and killings getting increasingly common. Cycle of El Salvador 2011 will have to wait.
Reaching NYC I had a six-hour stopover in JFK airport, which I mistakenly thought would have plenty to keep me occupied. However my stopover consisted of watching baseball on a TV with no volume and wandering around the terminal gates. Although the free wifi did keep things bearable. JFK airport also provided the excitement of ordering a burger through a touch-screen computer at Cheeburger Cheeburger (not a misspelling). I approached the counter, and said to the guy in uniform “Can I get….”, only to be interupted by “Order through the computer Sir.” Technology gone mad.
NYC to Seattle was another 6hr flight, added to by 50mins sitting on the runway because of bad weather in the area. The one bonus was when we were taxi-ing to take off, I looked around to see the vast skyline of NYC (including the Empire State Building) against the backdrop of a deep red sunset. It looked brilliant, and i’ll be glad to get back there in 7 weeks time to take a bite from the Big Apple.
Flying with JetBlue was ‘interesting’ – JB don’t take cash on flights, and they also don’t sell hot food, so I was glad for that tube of Smarties I had stocked away. I did manage to sleep a couple of hours though, and in hindsight I think that was a saviour.
I landed in Seattle just before midnight local time and was greeted by Donal (one of our support drivers) and Fidelma – a friend of Donal’s family from Leixlip who moved to the U.S. 18 years ago. Fidelma drove myself, my suitcase, and my bike box to her house in the Ravenna area of Seattle and provided a comfy bed for this bloodshot-eyed Irishman. By the time I hit the pillow I had travelled nearly 24hours, 2hours of which had been sleep. Fidelma you are a Godsend.
Tomorrow brings shopping for supplies, calls to newspapers, and maybe a trip to town that night for a Lucozade or two.